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How To Cope With Losing A Dog (Dealing With Death Of A Dog)

The pain of losing a pet can be overwhelming, especially because pets are more than just animals to their owners.

These canine companions are part of the family, and losing them is equally heartbreaking.

Losing a dog leaves a deep sense of loss and emptiness, primarily because of the powerful bonds they form with their owners over time.

Pet owners are caregivers, and they often celebrate birthdays with and for their pets, so it is not strange to be overcome by sorrow when a pet dies.

Dogs provide emotional support, companionship, unconditional love, acceptance, and fun, making their deaths any less painful.

The Grief Process

It is usual for any pet owner to feel racked by grief and loss when grieving the loss of a pet.

People respond differently to loss, depending on such factors as the age and personality of the pet and the owner and the circumstances surrounding the death.

The level of grief experienced and emotional pain intensity is dependent on how powerful the bond was between the dog and the owner.

The grief process is individual and different for every person, and it ranges from days to years depending on the intensity of loss.

It is hard for most dog owners to express their feelings of grief because most people around don’t understand the gravity of losing a pet.

In her book,” On Death and Dying,” Kubler-Ross outlines five stages of the grief process, which apply to pets and human companions alike.

The grief process is fluid and dynamic, feeling more or less subsequent to some people and developing rhythmically to others.

It is engraved with feelings that collide and overlap as they leave and return.


Most people use denial as a defense mechanism to dull the shock of loss and to get them through the initial gush of pain.

Denial comes at a raw time right after your dog has died when you start feeling like you heard your dog in the next room or saw him coming your way when you are really just seeing a shoe.

Grief fills every space at this stage, as it inhabits every place your dog occupied, the empty pit in your stomach inclusive.

The denial stage is as comforting as it is confusing, but it is critical to help your grief and miss your companion.


Denial is often followed by anger as the reality of losing your dog begins to set in.

When grieving, most people are prone to redirect their anger almost everywhere to find someone to blame for the pain they feel.

There are mixed emotions and questions of what could be done differently by the vet or other family members to save the dog’s life.


The first instinct when most people lose a loved one is to find a way to handle the helplessness and vulnerability that comes with it.

This is often done with themselves, a higher power, or with the deceased pet.

Depending on the events leading to the death, the bargaining stage is often a sense of guilt over what was or wasn’t done to save the pet, and sometimes it’s just a jumble of confused and intense emotions which are hard to reconcile.

You wish for that one last walk, or bark, or anything to have your friend back.


This stage is filled with sadness, and it is in this state, we reconcile our feelings of loss and accept the finality of separation and face it.

At this stage, it’s common for some people to withdraw while others start reaching out to their friends.

The sadness experienced at this stage helps you understand your pain, and once you admit you’re wounded, then the healing process begins.


Acceptance stage is the most challenging in the process.

Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean you forget the loss; it is an embracement of the life lived by your dog and the death as well.

At this stage, you acknowledge that there can’t be a replacement for the lost pet, which brings more smiles than sadness.

How Long Does Grief Last After Losing a Dog

There is no distinct timetable for mourning the loss of your dog, as the grief process is as individual as every dog owner.

People grieve in correlation to the significance and quality of the bond between them and their pets, with some finding it harder to move on than others.

Dogs are very caring animals, and the structure and routine they provide over the years are greatly affected upon death.

The home is left empty and lonely, especially when the connection to the events leading to the acquisition of the pet is savored.

There are symptoms of acute grief experienced after losing a pet, and averagely they last between one to two months.

It is possible for grief to last years, and it is a very individual matter ranging from person to person.

Many factors are influencing how long people take to grief and how they respond to loss, such as the age and personality of the pet and the owner and the circumstances surrounding the death.

The closer you were to your pet, the more painful it’ll be to deal with loss and the longer it’ll take to grief.

Losing a dog can significantly disrupt the life and daily routine of the owner.

For most dog owners, their schedules revolve around the needs of their dogs, sometimes even during vacations.

Losing a dog changes this routine and lifestyle, which is a primary source of sadness that makes it harder to move on.

Sometimes the sadness never really goes away, and the bereft person’s life may never be the same again.

These intense feelings may lessen over time, and they may be gone in a few weeks or months.

However, some people cannot let go, especially because it feels as though they are breaking the bond with their companions.

Still, after mourning and bidding proper farewell, there comes peace.

Why is Losing a Dog So Painful

Dogs, like other pets, have a way of making us feel better, even on bad days.

This unfaltering love and the bond formed between dogs and their owners make losing dogs so painful.

For most of us, a dog is more than just an animal companion.

Dogs bring fun, companionship, and joy to our lives and structure to our days, which helps keep you social and active.

Humans project their thoughts, ideas, and emotions onto their pets, making pet deaths very traumatic.

People who never had a dog may not understand the pain associated with such loss, and they may even invalidate your feelings.

It is very normal to be devastated after losing a dog and keep hoping it will be there to greet you at the door when you get home.

Dogs don’t live as long, but their presence is strong enough to cause deep pain and shock when they are gone.

The bond between a dog and its owner is a very strong one, and some even say they feel disloyal when they adopt another pet to replace the deceased one.

Dogs accept their owners and love them unconditionally, making their owners appreciative of their presence in their lives.

After spending so many years with your furry friend, sinking feelings of grief and depression are very normal.

This loss is very painful, especially when you are in denial and shock.

The full water bowl, the empty be the lifeless leash on the table, and having no one to jump all over you when you get home is hard.

The routines and habits that have been observed for years are all gone, and the balance of life in the family is affected.

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1 thought on “How To Cope With Losing A Dog (Dealing With Death Of A Dog)”

  1. Thank you for this I’m suffering terrible loss of my dad’s boy golden retriever (Duke)who was nearly 12, I looked after him more and more when my dad retired early and went away traveling allot I always adored him and golden retrievers are the most amazing beautiful dog breeds I have ever seen I’ve been so heart broken that I researched a KC registered breeder and drove for hours to Wales and bought a puppy golden retriever the pain only continued although this beautiful ball if fluff was an amazing comfort , just made me miss him more as she was I mini Duke I made sure the hair colour and likeness was as close as I Coukd get, but I cannot stop crying and lying awake with the what ifs ect I have never experienced pain like this not even after I lost my grandparents! Im so heartbroken in lockdown I asked my dad for Duke more and more as I was suffering panic attacks and he helped me cope so much more just that cuddle there the most amazing breed (I’m in my 40s ) having read your column I feel like this must be normal to feel this but I pray to God this pay goes just terrible


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National Canine Research Association of America